Early childhood is a foundational period in development with long-term consequences for learning and wellbeing. Although research has shown fade-out of the cognitive benefits of preschool interventions, less is known regarding the durability of social-emotional impacts. In this presentation, I examine the extent to which a contextually-informed, classroom-based social-emotional intervention lowered risk of internalizing, externalizing, attention, and social difficulties from Head Start through elementary school for 602 low-income children living in Chicago. Results suggest that although most children in the sample showed few social-emotional difficulties over time, one quarter exhibited profiles of transitory or building challenges over six years. Random assignment to the intervention significantly reduced children’s odds of transitory attention and social difficulties in middle childhood, with preliminary evidence suggesting stronger impacts for children attending elementary schools characterized by low academic rigor and high neighborhood crime. To conclude the presentation, I discuss the implications of this work for early childhood research, intervention, and policy. I also describe future directions for the design and evaluation of social-emotional programming in low-income communities outside of the United States.
Dana Charles McCoy is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Her work focuses on understanding the ways that poverty-related risk factors in children's home, school, and neighborhood environments affect the development of their cognitive and socioemotional skills in early childhood. She is also interested in the development, refinement, and evaluation of early intervention programs designed to promote positive development and resilience in young children, particularly in terms of their self-regulation and executive function. McCoy's research is centered in both domestic and international contexts, including Brazil, Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia. She has a particular interest in interdisciplinary theory, causal methodology, and ecologically valid measurement. Before joining the HGSE faculty, McCoy served as an NICHD National Research Service Award post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard Center on the Developing Child. She graduated with an A.B. in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Dartmouth College and received her Ph.D. in Applied Psychology with a concentration in Quantitative Analysis from New York University.